Eastern Shore can offer clean energy

Might 100 MW of wind power be just the beginning?

Recently, the Maryland Senate Finance Committee heard Sen. Steve Hershey's Kent County Land-Based Wind Generating Stations bill. Nearly 200 people packed the hearing to testify about the expected Mills Branch Wind Energy Project.

This project, led by Apex Clean Energy Inc., would involve 25 to 35 500-foot-tall (or higher) wind turbines capable of producing up to 100 megawatts of clean energy, powering tens of thousands of homes each year. The scale of the project and the Maryland Public Service Commission process that determines approval were of most concern.

A good deal of hard work done has been done in Kent County (through the 2010 Kent County Renewable Energy Task Force) and several other Eastern Shore counties to determine what renewable energy approach is the best fit for our landscape. This thoughtful local planning process should be respected, and Eastern Shore Land Conservancy supported SB 938, which never received a committee vote.

The clear message coming from the hearing was a lack of regional vision for what renewable energy should look like. With solar, biogas, ethanol, thermal, hydrokinetics and many more, the Eastern Shore has the potential to be the undisputed leader in Maryland renewable energy, but it can't be done at the expense of resources like tillable acreage, wildlife habitat, rural landscapes and more.

The attention surrounding the Mills Branch project is a call to action. This Eastern Shore must develop a strategy to say "yes" to renewable energy — on our terms.

Amy Owsley, Queenstown

The writer is deputy director of the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy.

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